2009 Lincoln MKS
The 2009 Lincoln MKS
is a new American luxury
flagship that carries with it a combination of tradition and modernity. Design and style culled in part from the regal 1941 Continental and later slab-sided presidential versions of the sixties makes no apology for not looking like a European executive coach. A completely redesigned suspension leaves the wallowing ride of traditional American luxo-barges well and truly forgotten in the past where it belongs. Independent suspension on all four wheels is designed to meld the disparate worlds of luxurious ride and performance handling in the same motoring galaxy.
The Lincoln MKS also represents a departure from the traditional American formula of V-8 luxury powertrains by way of shedding two cylinders. Forced induction
will soon be added to this new V-6 formula to bring eight-cylinder performance to the Lincoln lineup by way of twin turbochargers. The evolution of American luxury car technology also carries through the interfaces required to better grapple with the data driven world we live in. Along with a level of interior
refinement expected in a luxury car, this production version descendant of the Lincoln MKR concept car rolls with more technology and voice activated gadgetry than the CES show in Las Vegas.
What's to Like
Plush leather, and lots of it. A dual sunroof adds a light and airy feel to the well-appointed cabin. Reasonably punchy V-6 with optional AWD makes for entertaining stab-and-steer driving. Talking with a car can be fun, and SYNC plays well with all manner of communication and entertainment devices. Quiet interior provides sonic isolation in which to enjoy the THX sound system. Premium gasoline not required to hit rated 273 horsepower.
What's Not to Like
Headrest angled steeply forward to meet federal safety standards provides a sore neck at no extra charge. Chromed plastic that carries the sweeping genuine wood horizontal dash line onto the doors looks like chromed plastic. Optional 20-inch wheels might be stylish, but the low profile tires fight the luxurious ride over highway expansion joints and chuckholes. Added mass of the larger wheels adds unsprung weight, taxing the otherwise well-sorted suspension.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
With a special key fob in pocket the Lincoln MKS unlocks the doors by driver proximity. Plush leather invites entry. A pull on the door brings the sound of silence. Pushing the start button kicks the 273 horsepower V-6 to life. Out on the road the fully independent suspension telegraphs little to the cabin on the highway speed straights, yet still maintains a reasonably firm measure of control and feedback on winding roads.
The Lincoln MKS isolates the driver and passenger well enough to allow time getting familiar with the onboard technology while navigating quite possibly worst metropolitan traffic in America in Washington DC. The big Lincoln absorbed the sweeping curves of Virginia country roads with confidence. Road hazards in the form of a slow moving tortoise and a very stationary large tree blocking the entire road due to severe storm conditions were handily avoided.
Engine and Drivetrain
The new 3.7-liter V-6 engine was developed from the 3.5-liter versions already in the Lincoln MKX
. Slightly larger cylinders bump up displacement. Variable valve timing in concert with a six-speed automatic transmission delivers punchy torque from a standing start full throttle hit. Smooth efficiency comes with a lighter foot. Optional AWD channels it all to the tarmac. Capless fuel filler keeps gasoline off hands and paint along with minimizing evaporation.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
The Lincoln MKS is choc-a-block with space age technology. Audiophiles and CES attendees alike will note that the Lincoln MKS is the first car ever to feature THX II Certified 5.1 Surround Sound Audio. Put the transmission in park and slide Star Wars into the DVD player. While the 8-inch touch screen is no Cinerama Dome, the sound system reproduces the evil yet ultimately futile rasping of Darth Vader with startling accuracy. Gigs of music loaded into the hard drive sound pretty great as well. Adaptive cruise control uses radar to maintain distance from cars ahead. Keyless entry lies invisible in the B-pillar until activated by touch.
Key Technology Evaluation
Voice activated SYNC technology is standard on all Lincolns for hands free cell phone and music device action. The next-generation navigation system with Sirius Travel Link features live weather feeds, current gas station prices, real time traffic info, even movie and sports event info. Over 3,500 points of interest have been programmed into the navigation system
. Finding a Waffle House or White Castle on the way to the Opera has never been easier. Adaptive headlamps and automatic hi-low beams use sensing technology originally developed by NASA, presumably for the astronauts.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
Even though a full size luxury vehicle may not seem high on the list of green vehicles
, the naturally aspirated Lincoln MKS V-6 is a solid platform for the coming Eco-Boost equipped models, which will kick out 340 Horsepower and 340 lb-ft of torque with twin turbochargers and six cylinders in the 2009 calendar year. The current 2009 Lincoln MKS meets US Federal Tier 2 Bin 5 and California ULEV-II emissions standards.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
Bridge of Weir leather from Scotland is the softest leather ever used in any Lincoln. Rear seats are actually comfortable. The flat face gauges and multi-function touch screen are all on the same plane, making the interior features of the MKS available to passenger as well as driver. The dual sunroof is twice as good as one.
Tuxedo Black finish of the test model appeared as rich and dark as midnight in Death Valley from afar, yet glinted with metallic sunburst at closer distance. Slab sided styling reminiscent of '60s Lincoln Continentals is offset by modern sweeping lines and chamfers that work well with the over the wheel arch kickups.
Market Segment and Pricing
Lincoln is targeting the 2009 Lincoln MKS at the Generation X buyer that would rather not be seen driving European or Asian sourced luxury car, yet still requires maximum technology on demand. There is no cause for alarm with the customer who's picked up a new Lincoln every few years since the 1976 Bill Blass edition Continental. Lincoln wants to retain traditional buyers and simultaneously win new converts. The Lincoln MKS starts in the $37,000 range.
What We Think
A great deal of effort clearly went into the design and production of the Lincoln MKS, which marks a point in the transition of a brand as it carries tradition into the future by using technology. The sedan leaves behind the leisure suit and gold chain image by way of measurable improvements in physical and digital systems. The Lincoln MKS is a modern alternative for the full size luxury car customer seeking American style and innovation. While the naturally aspirated V-6 and six-speed automatic serve the current car well, the Eco-Boost twin-turbo V-6 coupled with AWD will clearly propel this luxury machine onto an entirely different level.